Employee Falls from Utility Pit Ladder
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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  Consolidated Nuclear Security, Y12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, TN

Date: 

Topics:  Ergonomics, Work Management/Planning, Fall Protection, Confined Space

Fully identify the hazards of the work environment and adequately select personal protective equipment. Include consideration of the body mechanics required to safely complete the task.

Utility Maintenance Operations personnel at the Y-12 National Security Complex were replacing a broken sump pump in a below grade utility pit in a radiological contamination area. While climbing a fixed vertical ladder to exit the utility pit, a pipefitters left foot began to slip during, or directly after, transitioning the right hand from the final ladder rung to the vertical post of the handrail located outside the pit. The transition from the ladder to the exterior handrail, the extended reach needed to grip the exterior handrail, as well as the muck on the bottom of his shoes, caused his left foot to slip very unexpectedly on the ladder rung. Once his momentum began to shift, his left hand lost grip on the interior fixed ladder. This caused his body to swing away from the ladder. His right foot then slipped, and his right hand was not able to maintain grip with the sudden force placed on it. The pipefitter fell approximately five feet to the bottom of the pit, fracturing his right tibia and fibula bones.

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